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Smart's big night overwhelms Tigers

STILLWATER, Okla. — He had been subtly hinting at it with his words for the past few months.

On Tuesday night, Marcus Smart let his game do the talking.

Don't forget about me, America.

With the eyes of college basketball fans focused on the elite freshmen making names for themselves around the country, Smart was dominant while leading No. 7 Oklahoma State to a 101-80 win over No. 11 Memphis at Gallagher-Iba Arena.

Kansas' Andrew Wiggins, Duke's Jabari Parker and Kentucky's Julius Randle have dominated the headlines, but the Cowboys sophomore point guard showed his talent is second to none against Memphis. He scored a career-high 39 points on 11-of-21 shooting including 5-of-10 from the 3-point line and 12-of-16 from the foul line. His complete game was on display as well: Smart added five steals, four rebounds, four assists and two blocks, but also had three turnovers.

Smart has heard the buzz surrounding this freshman class, a buzz that was surrounding him at this time a year ago. He'd been sitting back, watching the freshmen garner the attention and didn't hesitate to call out the preseason hype surrounding them.

But, on the court, he was remarkably quiet early this season, scoring 41 combined points in OSU's first three wins. He got much louder in OSU's biggest game thus far. The point guard realized Tuesday's top-15 matchup on national television was a chance to show people he remains among the nation's best, no matter how many talented freshman have made their mark on college basketball.

"I'd be lying if I said it wasn't," Smart said when asked if all the attention the freshmen are getting provided motivation. "I've always been the underdog; I like it, I love it, I take it to heart.

"As a competitor, you don't want anyone to top you; you always want to be mentioned in that category."

It's safe to say he cemented himself into the minds of college basketball fans across the nation.

And it started from the tipoff. Smart scored 12 of OSU's first 14 points as the Cowboys jumped on Memphis in the first few minutes.

"Before the game, I went into the zone where I told myself, whatever I can to help this team win, I'm not going to let the team down tonight," he said. "I came out real aggressive. [I wanted to] set the tone early for my team."

Smart was the driving force as OSU jumped out to a 36-22 lead with 6:07 left in the first half. Smart's numbers at the time? 24 points on 8-of-14 shooting including 4-of-7 from beyond the arc.

It was the Marcus Smart Show, and it was setting social media on fire.

"That gives you such great momentum when you get a guy that hot early," OSU coach Travis Ford said. "When you're making shots like that and how he was making them, it makes everything else better. It makes you want to play defense harder, it makes you want to rebound harder, it gives you so much momentum, enthusiasm, energy, the crowd, everything. That played a big role in it. Him getting on a roll early was huge."

Memphis scored on a Joe Jackson layup with 5:47 left in the first half to cut OSU's lead to 12 but never got closer than that for the remainder of the contest and trailed by as many as 34 points in the second half. The Cowboys' relentless defense, the other story of the night, shut down Memphis guards Jackson and Michael Dixon. The duo combined to shoot 4-of-16 from the field, score 13 points and commit six turnovers. Dixon and Jackson combined for 31 points in Memphis' season-opening win over Austin Peay.

"I thought we played good defense," Ford said. "What they do, they do great. I thought we did a great job taking them out of transition."

And Smart did the rest.